Development of Tracers for Real-Time Endoscopic Optical Imaging for Early Detection of Oesophageal Cancer

The incidence of oesophageal cancer is rising worldwide and it is recognised as a cancer of unmet need since overall survival remains persistently low. Current methods of surveillance of patients at risk of oesophageal cancer are inefficient. The central aim of this project is to develop optical imaging probes that target diagnostic biomarkers for the detection of early oesophageal neoplasia in vivo. Antibody and peptide-based near infrared (NIR) fluorophore-tagged constructs that are directed against selected molecular markers will be designed, synthesised and tested. Promising candidate tracers, including one already under investigation, will be taken forward for in vivo testing which will be performed in models of oesophageal cancer including GEMM models that closely simulate human oesophageal pre- and early oesophageal cancer. Ratiometric imaging of fluorophore combinations will be explored. This project will span antibody/peptide engineering and advanced microscopy techniques, in vivo imaging and miniaturised endoscopy instrument design. As such the project will suit a student interested in cross-disciplinary research, involving both biological and imaging science, and who is keen to develop skills in translational cancer research.

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